After graduating from Ohio University, I worked for a bit as an Environmental Consultant mostly at Fort Knox, I also applied to graduate school. In 2005, while hurricane Katrina was hitting the southern U.S., I was at the airport heading for Graduate school in Edmonton, Canada. There, I worked on a Master’s degree studying fossil Cretaceous age plants. Now not only was I around atheists, and and other folks that I would have been uncomfortable around in my little Ohio town, but they were my friends, roommates and colleagues.
It's amazing how wrong the stereotypes were that I had carried with me. People who didn’t go to church were supposed to be wicked, lost souls. That must not be the case in Canada, here, they were intelligent, kind and fun. I began to flirt with atheism at this point as well as political philosophies different than "Far Right". I also learned at this stage that I was a coward. I never talked to my parents about my growing lack of belief. I also had a hard time committing to it, I kept praying for God to lead me out of it, to show me the way. I began to flirt with Deism as a safe middle ground. This allowed me to vent my fears and frustrations to a supreme being of some kind, thank them, and ask forgiveness without having to compromise the reality of science or expect a direct answer.
After graduating, I took a teaching position in Arkansas. I missed my graduate student friends, but I did like hanging out with the biology faculty. Unlike the paleontologists and entomologists that I had hung out with in Canada, these folks were mixed in their views. Atheists, agnostics, Methodists, and Catholics all teaching biology together. The Baptists were mostly absent from the department, they had their own college across town, and taught evolution in their own way.
I, being the uncertain fellow that I am and a big fan of family continuity, joined the local Catholic Church. I did not attend regularly, but after meeting my wife (on Yahoo Personals!) we were married in the Catholic church (I went to confession for the second time in my life just before this just for good measure) and baptized our son there. Partially for the cowardly reason of wanting to keep family peace and partially because it was what I know, what felt...normal.
I realize I still have a soft spot for the Catholic Church. I am a cultural Catholic. I have however vowed not to support the church financially again unless they do something major about their sex abuse issues, and change their stance on birth-control, and homosexuality.
My search for spirituality continued, this led me to videos of Christopher Hitches on YouTube. My shaky Deism/Theism began to be challenged again by Atheism.